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Where the chefs eat: Amy Poon shares her 9 favourite London restaurants

The founder of Poon’s London reveals her must-visit foodie spots in the capital, from an innovative seafood bar to where to find the best dim sum

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Amy Poon grew up in a restaurant family. Her father Bill, a seventh-generation chef, opened Poon’s of Covent Garden in 1976, winning a Michelin star and a clientele of such illustrious names as Mick Jagger and Barbra Streisand. Amy brought Poon’s back with a sell-out run in Clerkenwell in 2018, followed by the launch of Poon’s Wontoneria as a pop-up at JOY at Portobello in 2021, and a nationwide delivery service of fresh wontons and cult Chinese sauces in 2022. This week, Poon’s Wontoneria launches a three-month residency at Carousel London. Here, Amy shares her favourite London restaurants.

Lisboeta

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

I had a staggeringly good meal at Lisboeta. I was transfixed watching Nuno Mendes cooking in the open kitchen; he must have thought I was weird because I just kept beaming at him. I loved the little Goan pork pies with lardo on them, and the cod with matchstick potatoes [bacalhau à brás], and the red prawn rice – obviously I sucked the heads clean. The food is interesting and presented very beautifully but without being like fine art. The site used to be Elena’s L’Etoile so it has a lot of memories for me because that was one of the restaurants my father used to take us to and it felt like a very grown-up, special treat.

30 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2NG
lisboeta.co.uk

The Sea, The Sea

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

Leandro Carreira is an amazing chef and a super nice guy. We’ve been meaning to go to his chef’s table in Hackney but the one we go to is on Pavilion Road near Sloane Square. It’s a fishmongers and seafood counter, all open plan, and what’s extraordinary is they have no extraction – everything is cooked on an induction hob – but you wouldn’t even realise he has this constraint. The dishes are so inventive and the fish, of course, is phenomenally fresh. He does mussels in a vegan XO sauce which are delicious. Everything in there is delicious. When a chef cooks and he has a wide smile on his face, you can taste it. 

174 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, London SW1X 0AW
theseathesea.net

Brawn

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

I went to Brawn on Columbia Road after lockdown with [food writer] Fuchsia Dunlop and I was so jealous, saying “why don’t we have anything like this in west London?” It’s really low-key and approachable. Ed Wilson’s food doesn’t feel too dressed, too contorted. I do get high-level food that looks like a painting, and I can appreciate it, but I do really like my food not to look like that. We had a delicious terrine with cornichons and French radishes, just beautiful; also, anchovies and rosemary oil; a tomato, melon and bottarga salad; and croquettes with this complete snowstorm of Parmesan over the top.

49 Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 7RG
brawn.co

Pastaio

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

I know Stevie Parle because we launched Poon’s Wontoneria at his restaurant Joy at Portobello during lockdown. His restaurant Pastaio near Carnaby Street is really reasonable; I don’t know where else I’d find fresh pasta at that price and that quality. It ticks a lot of boxes; it’s fun and buzzy and full of young people – I feel like I’m a thousand years old when I go there! All their sides are great; the burrata is great – my daughter always has that – and their anchovies too. The lobster linguine is possibly the most joyful and satisfying pasta dish ever.

19 Ganton Street, Soho, London W1F 9BN
pastaio.co.uk

Clarke’s

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

Sally Clarke’s restaurant Clarke’s is at the end of our road. It’s a bit of a treat. It is old-school; you are always so well looked after in there. I always have the veal chop and only manage to eat half of it and doggybag the rest; they don’t bat an eyelid. I think it’s the purity of the dish that I love; there are no reductions or rugby ball-shaped bits of veg. Of course, her bread is delicious, particularly the one with rosemary and raisins; it’s hard not to fill up on that. If the tagliolini with crab is on, I’ll have that. We’ll sometimes pop in for lunch if I’m working from home and my husband is in town. The lunch menu is really good value.

124 Kensington Church Street, Kensington, London W8 4BH
sallyclarke.com

Royal China Club

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

I never really go out for Chinese food because why would I? Unless I can count my parents’ house. However, we do go as a family to the Royal China Club for dim sum. If we are a cast of thousands, when my kids are home from school and want to invite their mates, then we’ll go to Royal China for dim sum but if it’s a smaller family group we’ll go to Royal China Club because it’s just a bit finer. I always order har gau, barbecue pork puffs, turnip cake, chicken feet, and cheung fun; and at least two kinds of veg, usually the gai lan in ginger juice and something poached in superior stock. I’m not crazy for xiao long bao but the kids are. I order potstickers; I don’t want to call them gyoza because that’s a Japanese word. I’ve got a bit of a thing about people using Japanese words for Chinese food just because they’re better known.

40-42 Baker Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7AJ
royalchinagroup.co.uk

Brunswick House

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

Poon’s moved to an office in Vauxhall this time last year; we do all our web orders and wontons there. Brunswick House is down the road. The dining room is beautiful; completely over the top with a million and one chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. You get the sense with chef Jackson Boxer that he really, really understands flavour profiles. There’s always a little extra in his dishes that gives it a twist and makes it a bit more interesting. The raw Dexter beef with smoked bone marrow is fabulous, and the radishes with green ranch, and the crab noodles are amazing.

30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 2LG
brunswickhouse.london

Four Seasons

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

My go-to for grab and go is Four Seasons on Gerrard Street for duck rice. I always order the duck on the bone. If I order just a quarter, I specify the leg quarter as opposed to the breast quarter because the leg is the best bit of any bird. I am a brown meat girl. I will sit in occasionally if I’m meeting someone or if I’m doing a shop in Chinatown and I’m hungry and I’ve got half an hour, I’ll just go in there on my own and get a duck rice.

12 Gerrard Street, Soho, London W1D 5PR
fs-restaurants.co.uk

Lisboa Patisserie

Chef Amy Poon Shares Her Favourite London RestaurantsPin

There’s an honesty about this little Portuguese bakery on Golborne Road; it’s kind of no apology. You can’t eat in; it’s just two little tables outside. I go there a lot to pick up Portuguese egg tarts [pastéis de nata]. Lisboa’s egg tarts are just the best. I love Chinese egg tarts with pork fat puff pastry; a lot are made western style with shortcrust, which I don’t like. Lisboa also does a chicken pie and the pastry in that is extraordinary.

57 Golborne Road, Kensal Town, London W10 5NR
restaurantji.co.uk

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